Allison "Chapter Two: Don’t Struggle In Silence"

Portrait by    Randy Bacon

Portrait by Randy Bacon

This past year has been a year of wild growth. I was completely consumed by my grief for a while; to the point where I was in a constant state of fear that I would fall back into my depression and somehow end up worse than I was before. That fear quickly grew to become the worst anxiety I have ever experienced. I had a weight on my chest that only seemed to get heavier, and never seemed to fade away. I knew I was struggling but every time I wanted to speak up, to say something, I couldn’t seem to open my mouth. I couldn’t ask for help no matter how much I knew I needed it. It took awhile, but I finally managed to cough up the words “I’m struggling.” It was when I was finally able to talk about my anxiety that it slowly began to fade.

I had been wrestling with hope ever since I got sick and never could find a balance. I’ve had too much hope and have been left completely discouraged and I have lost all hope and found myself in absolute darkness. I have tried to accept that my future will most likely be tainted by being in chronic pain, even though people tell me things like you’ll grow out of it and you never know, maybe one day you’ll wake up and it’ll just be gone. I’ve tried not to listen much to people who say things like that because my pain free days have been scattered and scarce, until this summer.

The beginning of the summer came like so many others, high hopes I forced down low and a bout of emotions I couldn’t seem to sort out. And no matter how much I prefer to not talk about it, I was struggling with my faith. I went to church camp for a couple weeks, just like I have almost every summer since I was a little kid. It was there, sitting in a crappy camp chair, swatting bugs away from my pale legs in the middle of worship that I heard God speak to me. I finally heard Him. After years of being told that I am being prayed for, after all the tears of desperation I’ve cried over not being able to feel those prayers, I finally heard Him.

God’s timing is bizarre. I wish I could eloquently word how monumental that moment was for me. I was fanning myself with a worship booklet, fighting the July heat, as if it would’ve made a difference, when I gained more clarity than I could have ever hoped. I gained more peace than I thought I could ever feel, more contentment than I thought I needed, and more confidence in God’s plan than I could have ever anticipated. I am still trying to fathom it, the words I heard God whisper into my ear and the people he perfectly placed in my life.

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After that I went nearly six weeks without having a migraine. I didn’t have to take my rescue medicine, I didn’t have any anxiety, I felt free. It was almost as if my anxiety evaporated right off of my shoulders and with it went the weight that had been wearing me down. That was the longest I have gone without having a bad migraine in almost five years. I never thought I would be able to look into the eyes of someone who has been praying for me all of this time and say that I have had some kind of relief.

I’ve learned a lot about myself this year. I have gained a lot of clarity and have been able to pinpoint what I am struggling with the most. I have come to the realization that I can’t afford to put my mental health in someone else’s hands, but also I can’t afford to not communicate how I am doing. I will not struggle in silence, not again. That is something I have really been working on, communicating when things are bad or when I am in pain. I have gone a long time not feeling like I could rely on people when I am in the midst of pain because of my past experiences, but I now know that my story is different than it used to be and that I can rely on the people in my life.

I am working on a lot of things, I know I have a lot more growing to do. I still am working through grief. I still am working on how to best cope with my anxiety and how to pinpoint my irrational thoughts before they consume me. I still have bad pain days. I am doing everything I can to learn how to better navigate the drastic transitions of highs to lows. But I have found bliss. And I know that my contentment is here to stay regardless of whatever pain comes crashing into me. I may not be myself when I am in the midst of pain, but without the pain, without my past, I would have never arrived—so wondrously and viciously by design—here.

September 2018